The Slime Mould Collective

An international network of/for intelligent organisms

Tales from the slimery - culture refreshing and sclerotia making

I've been spending this week sorting through physarum strains, checking viability and making fresh cultures for storing - dried slime usually lasts a couple of years so an annual restock hopefully keeps everything lively and ready for action at the drop of an oatflake. I'm hobbling around at the moment so everything's piled up by the door - it's normally very tidy, honest, my study doesn't look like this all the time, no really.... Well, what do you expect when I tend my slimes at 5am and 11pm ( yes really! )?

I figure this might be useful for some of our new members who are planning on using slime for exhibitions.

Totebags - These things are brilliant, they're air permeable, light proof and hold a lot of petri dishes, I keep all my cultures in bags. I also use dog poo bags to wrap individual petri dishes if I think something's likely to escape. Yes I have my own branded slime mould bags.

Starting off - I grow my slimes on filter paper - it's got enough wet strength to be movable, pencil's handy for labeling, marker pens bleed a bit but I do use them when I've lost the pencil, the slime doesn't seem to mind. As soon as the slime's moved onto the oats I'll remove the original paper to reduce the chances of contamination.

A day three slime - now in a 25cm petri - my only specialist piece of kit, these things are really expensive ( a fiver each ) but they're reusable and work pays for them anyway. I can stack seven in a tote bag which is the main appeal of them. I feed a lot when I'm growing up physarum - twice a day in a ring around the expanding cell so it's constantly moving outward onto new oats. By day five this dish will be full. If I need to hand out live slime I use one of these at day four - yes they look like heaving yellow cowpats, you'll need them in more photogenic form for display.

Harvesting - day five- onto the tea trays. Cheap catering trays, stacking two edge to edge gives the slime a nice damp dark environment to run out into.. The aim is to get the physarum onto a fresh piece of paper, trap it and dry it out. Our liquid friend doesn't mind being folded up . A few oats in the middle provide a distraction so it doesn't go wandering off and there's strip of paper under the middle of the big one to provide a reservoir of water. It takes a day for it to expand this far then the original blob of oats goes onto a fresh tray for a second harvest.

Turning the top tray 90 degrees allows the slime to start drying - it'll avoid the light and retreat to the damper reservoir in the middle of the tray.

After two days of such harsh treatment it's stopped moving and can be hung up to finish drying. Once it's fully dry I store the sclerotia in envelopes - they're fine for a couple of years.

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